How to Get a Certified Copy of Your Birth Certificate
What Is A Certified Copy Of The Birth Certificate?
A “Certified Copy of a Birth Certificate” is the photocopy of a birth certificate that is signed and attested by a public official (most of the time a public notary) as an accurate and complete reproduction of the original document.
A certified copy of your birth certificate does not confirm that the certificate is authentic or genuine, but only that the copy is a true copy of the original document.
Submitting your original birth certificate/a certified copy of it can be mandatory or optional, according to your personal situation and the Embassy/Consulate you are applying for your Schengen Visa.
Below you will find a list of general rules that can help you understand whether it is mandatory or not to submit your original birth certificate and/or a certified copy of it.
Please note that rules and requirements can vary depending on the Embassy/Consulate where you are applying for your Schengen Visa.
When is it mandatory to submit the original birth certificate and a certified copy of it:
- You are a minor and you are travelling alone (the age of majority depends upon the jurisdiction of each country, but it is generally the age of 18)
- You plan to travel within the Schengen Area with a minor, for example, your son or your daughter (in this case, you must submit the original birth certificate of the minor as well as a certified copy of it)
- You have a spouse/parent living in the Schengen Area
- You do not have your own financial means and someone else sponsors your trip to the Schengen Area (for example, you are a University/College student)
- Your surname at birth has changed
When is it optional to submit the original birth certificate and a certified copy of it:
- If none of the situations mentioned above are applicable to your situation
Even if your birth certificate and the certified copy of it are not mandatory documents for you, we still recommend you submit at least the certified copy of your birth certificate as it can bring additional proof of your identity and help the Schengen Visa officers speed up your application process.
Important – We recommend you submit a certified translation of your birth certificate as well.
The translation can be in English (most Embassies/Consulates accept English translations) or in the official language of the Schengen Embassy/Consulate where you submit your application – This is because the Schengen Visa officers might not understand the language in which your birth certificate is written.
Of course, the translation is only necessary if you don’t have a bilingual birth certificate. Most countries now issue birth certificates that are written in both the official language of the country and English, but older documents may only be in one language.
As a side note, our default recommendation is for you to submit a certified translation of the birth certificate in English. For example, if you apply at the Embassy/Consulate of Switzerland in your country of residence, you might not know which language would be most appropriate to translate the certificate as there are 4 official languages in Switzerland (Italian, German, French, and Romansh). Thus, most Schengen Visa officers accept English translations.
To sum up, we recommend you:
- Submit your original birth certificate, the certified English translation of it (if it is not already bi-lingual or in English), and a certified copy of it (if it has been deemed mandatory based on the situations outlined above).
- Submit a certified copy of your birth certificate and a certified English translation of it (if it is not already bi-lingual or in English) even if it is not mandatory for your situation.
In case all these different Schengen Visa requirements confuse you, the table below may help:
|ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE||CERTIFIED TRANSLATION IN ENGLISH OF THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE||CERTIFIED COPY OF THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE|
|You are a minor (usually, under 18) and you travel alone||✓||✓||✓|
|You plan to travel with a minor (e.g. your child) and you apply for their Schengen Visa as well – In this case you must submit both your birth certificate and the birth certificate of the minor||✓||✓||✓|
|You have a spouse/parent who lives in the Schengen Region||✓||✓||✓|
|You cannot cover the expenses for the trip and you have a sponsor||✓||✓||✓|
|Your surname at birth has changed||✓||✓||✓|
|None of the situations above is applicable to you||✓||✓||✓|
✓Mandatory for most Embassies/Consulates
✓Optional for most Embassies/Consulates but highly recommended you submit it
✓Optional for most Embassies/Consulates – You can submit it if you want, but it won’t necessarily bring a higher value to your Schengen Visa application
The Importance Of The Certified Copy Of Your Birth Certificate For Your Schengen Visa Application
● The importance of the original birth certificate and the certified copy of it, when it is mandatory to submit both of them:
➢ You are a minor travelling alone
You are requested to submit your original birth certificate, the certified translation of it (if it does not already contain a section in English), and a certified copy of it because you must prove who your parents are.
Please note that a minor travelling alone also needs a notarised parental authorisation letter signed by both parents as well. The parental authorisation letter can also be signed by one parent if they have your sole custody as long as you prove it with relevant documents (e.g., court order, death certificate, etc.).
If you submit only the notarised parental authorisation signed by your parents, the Embassy/Consulate officers cannot know that they are actually your parents (they can check this information by looking at your birth certificate where the names of your parents are written).
➢ You plan to travel to the Schengen Area with a minor (for example, your son or daughter)
You must submit the original birth certificate, the certified translation of it (if it does not already contain a section in English), and a certified copy of it because the Schengen Visa officers must ensure that you are the parent of the minor (they can check these details by looking at the parents’ names written on the birth certificate of the minor).
Also, in most countries, minors cannot have an ID card until a specific age (they can only have a passport in case they must travel) and the birth certificate is used as an additional proof of identity.
Please note that in this situation you must submit both your birth certificate and the one of the minor (as well as the translations in English and certified copies of both of them).
➢ You have a spouse or family member living in the Schengen Area
The Schengen Visa officers will ask you to bring proof of your degree of kinship with the person living in the Schengen Area who you will be visiting.
Most of the time, the degree of kinship can be proved by showing your birth certificate together with other additional documents to the Schengen Visa officers.
For example, if one of your parents is living in a Schengen Country and you plan on visiting them, they can check their name on your birth certificate. Or, if you have a child living in one of the Schengen Countries, they can check that you are actually the parent of that child.
If you are married to someone living in the Schengen Area, your birth certificate will bring additional proof of your civil status (together with your marriage certificate).
➢ You do not have your own financial means and someone else will be sponsoring your trip
If you cannot cover the expenses during your stay in the Schengen Area, you may need to show additional proof of your identity, together with your invitation sponsorship letter.
For example, if you are employed or self-employed and are able to cover the expenses yourself, you must submit a list of valid employment documents that bring additional proof not only of your financial means but of your identity as well (e.g., employment contract). But if you are unemployed (and you cannot submit employment documents) any additional proof of your identity may be necessary.
Also, when your trip to the Schengen Region is funded by a sponsor, you must prove the relationship you have with your sponsor (meaning that if your sponsor is one of your relatives you may need to submit your birth certificate to prove your degree of kinship).
➢ Your surname at birth has changed
When you fill out the Visa application form you have to mention if your surname at birth has changed (in the box called “Surname at birth/Former family name”).
If this is applicable to your situation and your last name has changed, you must bring proof of your former family name (and you can prove it by submitting your birth certificate).
● The importance of the certified copy of your birth certificate when submitting it is optional:
Even if you are not required to submit your original birth certificate, we still recommend you submit a certified copy of it because it brings additional proof of your identity.
If you keep asking yourself why you have to submit to the Embassy/Consulate a certified copy of your birth certificate (and not just an ordinary copy), you should know that Embassies/Consulates typically keep in their achieves the certified copies of the documents that prove the identity of the Schengen Visa applicants.
If for any reason the Schengen Visa officers need to check an applicant’s file in the archive, they have the guarantee that the copies of the documents that validated the identity of an applicant are accurate and complete reproductions of the original documents.
How To Get A Certified Copy Of Your Birth Certificate For Your Schengen Visa Application
The steps you must follow in order to get a certified copy of your birth certificate (or the one of your child) vary depending on individual state laws and countries.
Below you will find a few suggestions on how you can get a certified copy of your birth certificate.
● If you are not a citizen of your country of residence
If you are not a citizen of the country you live in, it is more likely you can get a certified copy of your birth certificate (or the one of your child) from the Embassy/Consulate of your country located in your current country of residence.
For example, if you are an Egyptian citizen living in the Philippines, you should ask the Egyptian Embassy/Consulate in the Philippines if they can provide you with a certified copy of your birth certificate.
● If you are a citizen of your country of residence
In this case, you must check and see where you can get a certified copy of your birth certificate, according to the laws of your country. One of the following suggestions should be available for you:
- Have a public notary or attorney certify the copy of your birth certificate – You should find a public notary, take your original birth certificate with you, as well as a copy of it (in case the notary will not make the copy for you and will ask you to provide it) and pay a fee for them to notarise/certify it. Also, in some countries, an attorney can certify a copy of a document as well. The only difference is that they can charge higher fees.
- Choose another professional who is allowed to certify the copy of your birth certificate – If the laws of your country allow you to, you can ask other professionals (such as teachers, doctors, bankers, or pharmacists) to certify the copy of your birth certificate. The professional who certifies the copy of the certificate must not be related to you (for example, the professional must not be in a relationship with you or live at the same address as you).
- Request your government agency to certify the copy of your passport – In some countries, the government (or state) agencies are allowed to certify the copies of various documents (e.g., Ministry Of External Affairs). If this law applies to your country as well, take your original birth certificate with you as well as a copy of it and ask the government agency officers to certify the copy. Do not forget that the agency may charge you a fee as well.
Also, if you need a certified translation of your birth certificate (or the certified translation of the birth certificate of your child) you can get one by contacting a certified translator or an agency that provides certified translation services in your country.
If you misplaced your original birth certificate, you can ask the authorities who registered your birth and issued the original certificate you misplaced to provide you with a new one – which usually includes a fee.
The steps you must follow in order to get a new birth certificate vary by country and individual state laws.
The authorities who issue a birth certificate can vary as well according to your country of residence (it can be the Town Hall, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, Administration of Civil Status, local civil registries, etc.)
Mistakes To Avoid When Submitting A Certified Copy Of Your Birth Certificate For Your Schengen Visa
Below you will find a list of the mistakes you should avoid making when submitting the certified copy of your birth certificate for your Schengen Visa application:
● Submitting the certified copy of a short-form birth certificate
Some countries issue for the same individual two types of birth certificates: a short-form and a long-form. The short-form birth certificate includes less information than the long-form.
The Schengen Visa officers need to know as much information as possible about you, and this is the reason why you should submit a long-form birth certificate.
● Submitting the copy of a certificate of live birth
In some countries, when a baby is born, both a certificate of live birth and a birth certificate are issued.
The certificate of live birth is an unofficial document issued by the hospital in order to record the birth.
You must not submit your certificate of live birth (in case you received one, according to the laws of your country) because it does help the Embassies/Consulates validate your birth, as it is not an official Government document.
● Not taking your original birth certificate with you when requesting a birth certificate certified copy
No matter where you get your birth certificate copy certified, you will need to take your original document with you.
The notary/government agency officers/other professionals must check both your birth certificate and the copy of it in order to declare that the copy is a true copy of the original document.
● Not mentioning the purpose of the copy of your birth certificate (only if required by the law of your country)
In some countries, the notary or the person who is authorised to certify the copy of your birth certificate must write the name of the institution/organisation where the certified copy will be used.
You should ask the person who certifies the copy of your birth certificate if an additional sentence can be added to your certified copy.
For example, “This certified copy of the birth certificate of [Your full name] will be used at [Name of the Embassy/Consulate where you submit your documents] for the Schengen Visa application”.
● Photocopying a part of your birth certificate and cutting off other information
Sometimes, when documents are photocopied some sections of important information can accidentally be cut off. For example, the photocopy of your birth certificate showing partial information relating to the name of the authority who issued the document or the registration number of the birth certificate.
Make sure the copy of your certificate is a perfect reproduction of the original document and you didn’t cut off any information (such as numbers or letters) and it should always be in colour, not black and white.
● Not translating the birth certificate if it is not bilingual (in both English and the language of the country that issued it)
Especially in the situation when it is mandatory to submit the birth certificate, the certified translation of this document is extremely important as the Schengen Visa officers might not understand the language in which it is written.
Even if submitting the certified copy of your birth certificate is optional, you should submit a certified translation as well for the same reason.